St. Ambrose students, past and present, brought their SAU experience to the community with their involvement at the QC Theatre Workshop. Alumni Jordan McGinnis '16 directed Almost, Maine written by John Cariani with actor Amelia Fischer '16 and stage manager Hannah Donovan, a current senior at SAU. Performances were November 10-12.
Twenty-four-year-old McGinnis began as an actor at St. Ambrose and eventually tried stage managing, sound designing, and assistant music directing. His senior year he took directing class, which opened a new door for him. He directed a 10-minute scene from Assassins by John Weidman and a one act called, The Cat and The Monkey.
“I’ve always wanted to direct; it's the most collaborative aspect of theatre. I find it more satisfying to build characters with people rather than to build them myself.”
Jordan McGinnis '16
After seeing McGinnis' work at St. Ambrose, artistic director Tyson Danner '07 reached out. McGinnis then emailed Danner some potential play ideas to add to the Workshop's 2017-18 season. In June, Danner confirmed that McGinnis would direct Almost, Maine, which would hold auditions in July with rehearsals starting in September.
"It was the first play I performed in high school, and it's a play I hold dear," McGinnis said. "It's cool that it's my first full-length direction and also the first play I acted in."
After casting eight actors, many who play multiple characters, McGinnis began rehearsals and worked with his designers. He did his own sound design since he had experience sound designing at St. Ambrose.
"The biggest challenge was being the same age as the actors and not being able to convey my thoughts to designers as clearly as I would have liked," McGinnis said.
However, his experience at St. Ambrose helped him as he went through the process of his first professional directing gig. He felt confident in explaining ideas to actors and had a broader vocabulary to use with them due to his time at SAU. Also, his time and classes with SAU technical director Kris Eitrheim gave him the knowledge and language necessary to begin to communicate with the designers.
McGinnis's goal for the play was to find honesty in simple moments, and he hoped the performances would give the audience a nice, simple night of honesty even with the fantastical elements of the play.
"This experience definitely enhanced my desire to direct," McGinnis said. "As a whole, it has been rewarding."
McGinnis currently works full-time in the warehouse of Barron Equipment Company in Davenport. Eventually, McGinnis hopes to leave the Quad Cities to explore more directing opportunities with SAU senior and friend Sam Jones. His end goal is to return to school for his master's degree and to teach acting at the college level.